Do you know how valuable you are?

As a self-employed writer with a certifiably type-A personality, I often equate my work with my worth. It’s easy to slip from wondering whether my work has value to wondering whether I have value.

It’s a common struggle. Maybe for you it is something different – comparing yourself physically to others or measuring your personal worth by your net worth, number of friends, or life accomplishments. To put an end to such demoralized thinking, let me share an important lesson.

Last week I took my 12-year-old daughter, Lydia, to Goodwill to pick up a few items for school. Searching through the dresses, I found a black eyelet sheath with tags. Tags!!! In second-hand clothing culture, this is like scoring a triple home run with the bases loaded and your eyes closed.

A silky thread attached to the cardstock said, “Burberry. Made in London.” So, I bought it. For about five bucks.

Having never been one to follow fashion – other than being the grateful beneficiary of second-hand deals from LL Bean – I didn’t know anything about Burberry. But on the short drive home, Lydia and I had fun guessing how much the dress was worth and imitating the designer’s name in our best cockney accents.

“Burrrr-berrrrrry,” we intoned, dropping our voices to a sultry drawl.

The label said, “Do Not Wash,” which I frugally interpreted to mean “Wash By Hand.” So I snipped the tag and dunked the dress in the bathroom sink before hanging it in the mudroom to dry. Then, Lydia and I sat down at the computer to see if we could find out how much the dress was worth.

A hundred bucks? A hundred and fifty? When we clicked on the web site of the British luxury designer and saw similarly priced dresses that started – started! – at $495 and others that went for more than $1,500, our chins dropped.

All I could think was of the upcoming heating season and the holidays and how much money I could have earned reselling the dress online. Because I didn’t know the designer, I didn’t know the dress’s true worth.

It is often the same with us, I realized. When we don’t understand who designed us, it is easy to underestimate our worth – or the worth of others. Those people fleeing across the Mediterranean in rubber boats? They are God-designed originals. Those children with disabilities left in back rooms of developing countries, unable to attend school because they lack wheelchairs? They are made in God’s image. Those families collecting things to sell from burning garbage heaps in Nicaragua? They are more valuable than all the deposits in the US treasury, all the world’s greatest paintings, all the clothing you could ever own.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah (1:4).

God – the creator of the heavens and the earth – formed you. If a dress – a mere article of clothing that is fashionable today and discarded tomorrow – can be so valuable because it was produced by a top fashion company, just imagine what you are worth.

“God,” try that in your best cockney.